The upcoming release of Feature Pack 1 for XenDesktop 3 in early May marks two significant steps forward in the delivery of Adobe Flash content from XenDesktop.

First of all, a Trial Release of HDX MediaStream for Flash is being introduced that offloads the rendering of Flash content to the user’s Windows PC or Windows XP Embedded desktop appliance. This results in a “high definition” user experience when using Internet Explorer to access Flash content including animations, videos and applications. And it reduces server and network load, resulting in higher scalability. The Trial Release, suitable for “proof-of-concept” evaluations, will give the market an early look at the industry’s first and only Flash acceleration solution for virtual desktops.

Comments from customers who participated in our alpha program for this new technology were extremely positive. One wrote: “It’s a lot of fun impressing my co-workers with the performance, especially with our training content. Another way I like to ‘flex the muscles’ of Flash acceleration is to go to www.gametrailers.com, open a high definition Flash video in a published IE instance and watch it run with super smooth performance with nearly no impact on the Citrix server. It’s jaw dropping to those who are familiar with the old limitations of Flash and Citrix.” Some people have even been using this technology for Flash-based video conferencing (yes, you can plug in a webcam!) and to run Adobe Flex applications. And by the way (I’m sure Sridhar will blog about this), the Trial Release supports XenApp, too!

Secondly, Feature Pack 1 also introduces improved performance for server-side video rendering. This is valuable for customers unable to run the Flash Player on the user’s access device. With Feature Pack 1, you’ll notice a marked improvement in video quality thanks to an increase in frame rate and other optimizations. Besides benefiting server-rendered Flash content, this improves QuickTime and Silverlight video playback, too. In fact, it also delivers a better experience with PowerPoint animations and similar effects. And even when available network bandwidth is less than ideal, XenDesktop continues to deliver a decent video experience while other solutions degenerate into a “slide show”.

81% of Citrix customers surveyed need to deliver training videos and eLearning courses to their users, and many of these are Flash-based. Add to that the widespread use of Flash on web sites and the growth of Flash-based applications, and there’s no doubt that these two big advances in Flash content delivery will be a hit.

Derek Thorslund
Product Strategist, HDX Multimedia Virtualization